25 September 2016
Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Saturday in Ilorin said he was disappointed with those who said Nigeria performed abysmally at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games.
Declaring open the second edition of the National Youth Games (NYG), Dalung said comments describing Team Nigeria’s performance at Rio 2016 Olympics as abysmal worried him.
He said he was worried because Nigeria’s outing in Rio was better than that of the London 2012 Olympics where the country failed to win a single medal.
Team Nigeria to the Paralympics in Rio about three weeks after the Olympics won eight gold two silver and two bronze medals.
Dalung, in his argument, pointed out that Nigeria set a unique record at the Rio Olympics with Aruna Quadri being the first African to reach the quarter-finals in male table tennis.
“Chierika Ukogu was also the first black athlete to reach the semi-finals of the rowing event,’’ he said.
Dalung said the country must move with the trend of events in line with international best practices to develop sports from the grassroots.
“Sports in Nigeria has grown and have contributed immensely to national unity. It has equally brought about a stronger binding spirit as well as the detribalisation of Nigeria,’’ he said.
The minister recalled that after NYG maiden edition held in Abuja in 2013, there was the emergence of talented athletes.
“These athletes represented Nigeria at the 2014 African Youth Games held in Botswana and the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, and they won laurels,’’ he noted.
Dalung said he was hopeful that the second edition would follow in the same notable path of history by producing podium athletes in different sports.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his magnanimity of granting approval for the hosting of the Games.
The minister urged athletes to regard their role in the Games as a stepping stone to greater heights bearing in mind that there is joy in participation and winning.
Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Bolakale Ayo, commended the minister for sustaining the Games.
He said it had become a platform for discovering talents, and urged the participating athletes not to relent in achieving success in their areas of sports.
The governor also advised the young athletes to not only focus on sports but extend such passion to their education.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, said “sports is the only thing in life which has a universal language and is easy to speak.’’
He also said it is an arena for unity and for nation-building, pointing out that it had become one of the fastest growing industries in the today’s Nigeria.
A total of 2,645 athletes from 22 states will compete in 14 events at the Games scheduled to end on Friday.